Living with anxiety is not a pleasant experience. You have this awful feeling that you’re under threat all the time, even when you’re safely locked in your home. On the surface, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
However, when you peel back the layers, you soon realize why it is such a common affliction. We’re just not wired for the stresses we face in our lives. They’re nothing like those we encountered as our species developed.
Researchers are interested in why so many people in the modern world seem to develop the condition. Now they’re beginning to realize it is a result of leaving our natural state behind and trying to live in technological societies. Our brains just aren’t evolved to cope with the modern world.
For many people, the main issue is work. Modern humans work longer and harder than their ancient ancestors, spending upwards of eight hours per day being productive. Compare this to modern hunter-gatherers, who typically spend the mornings active and rest in the afternoons and the evenings. So already, we’re rushed off our feet by historical standards.
Then, when you add all of the trappings of the modern world, you wind up with a recipe for anxiety. Dating websites, emails on your device from your boss, and take-out junk food all slowly eat away at your mental health. Over time, you start to feel burned out. Every day seems like a struggle. Not good.
On top of that, you have the philosophy of the modern world. We all have to be successful, it seems, to fulfill the people’s aesthetic demands. If we’re not making loads of money and experiencing incredible relationships, we’re dead in the water.
Anxiety was never supposed to work this way. People didn’t wake up in the morning ten thousand years ago, worrying about the next thing their boss was going to say via email. Instead, their anxiety was fleeting – something that helped them escape a tricky situation.
The brain initially developed psychic pain to get people to avoid danger. If you felt anxious walking towards a bear, you’d naturally go in the other direction, thereby preserving your body to produce offspring for the next generation.
However, that same fear switch can remain permanently in the “on” position in the 21st century. Even though we don’t face many real life-or-death situations in our lives, the biological machinery is essentially unchanged from thousands of years ago. So when we perceive a threat in our environment, it activates the same circuits.
Experiencing the pain of anxiety is bad enough. But it also takes its toll on your health. People who regularly have the condition tend to have worse blood sugar control, don’t get as much sleep, and feel worn out all the time. It’s a disastrous combination that slowly saps you of your strength.
So what can you do to fight back against anxiety naturally? Fortunately, there are a lot of strategies you can use. And most of them are a return to how people used to live their lives.
Here’s what to do to beat anxiety naturally.
Eat A Healthy Diet
Eating healthily is extremely important for all kinds of reasons, especially if you are prone to anxiety. The modern food environment is, unfortunately, a recipe for feelings of dread and worry. Artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives all have a negative impact on your gut microbiome, leading to systemic inflammation. And a meat- and sugar-rich diet can increase the number of inflammatory factors in your bloodstream, which, again, lowers your mood.
Ideally, you want to eat a diet that mimics the type of foods that humans ate historically. You’re not going to be able to forage for wild food. But you can get pretty close by packing your diet with nuts, greens, and berries – the least adulterated ingredients in the food supply. All of these foods are naturally anti-inflammatory, which can immediately begin to bring down inflammatory markers in the bloodstream. Plus, you can target specific foods for your diet, like flaxseed and chamomile tea, which seem to independently help you feel more relaxed, regardless of the levels of inflammation in your body.
If you think your adrenal response is really out of whack, you can try using a herbal supplement called ashwagandha. It’s a natural root that acts as an adaptogen, restoring your neurochemistry to baseline. Ultimately, it will make you feel more chilled – how you would feel, were the modern world not interfering with your biochemistry.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is good for all sorts of reasons. But it is particularly crucial for people with a tendency to experience anxiety. Insomnia is a significant issue, which can actually make anxiety worse. When you can’t sleep, you worry that you won’t be able to do your work correctly, and that just makes the problem worse.
Good sleep hygiene involves keeping your devices out of your room, so you’re not tempted to watch TV in bed. You also want to make sure that you avoid caffeinated drinks, which can make you feel highly stimulated.
However, there are also a bunch of things that help sleep that most people don’t know about. First, you want to make sure that your bedroom is a little colder than the rest of your home, perhaps by opening the window. Our bodies naturally decrease in temperature when we go to sleep. It helps with tissue repair and helps to slow down metabolic processes.
Second, you want to stop eating at around 7 pm if you can. Our bodies don’t like sleep and process food at the same time. It affects their natural sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult to get the rest you need.
Finally, you might want to try writing down all your worries in your journal before you sleep and “give them to the paper.” Handing over responsibility can make a big difference.
Researchers are finding that certain smells can change the way we feel. When we smell something beautiful like lavender, it trips a wellbeing switch in our brains, and all of a sudden, we feel better.
Aromatherapy, therefore, is fast becoming a hit among people with anxiety. The way it works is pretty simple. You get a diffuser, add a few drops of essential oil, and then set it to work. The water and the oil will combine under heat and distribute throughout the air.
In a sense, it is a bit like a one time weed box. You get all of the ingredients you need in a single package, and then just assemble them to get rid of your anxiety. Except, there’s a difference: you can choose from hundreds of essential oils.
When it comes to making you feel better, some are better than others. Top contenders are lavender, lemon, chamomile and frankincense.
You can also try bergamot, ylang-ylang, and clary sage. Try a range of different herbs to see which works for you the best.
Be More Active
Being more active is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your feelings of anxiety. Again, you can use it to mimic the way humans used to live before we all started living extremely sedentary lives.
Exercise isn’t just a short-term fix, either. The effects of physical activity can last for hours after you do it, and even the morning of the next day. Researchers think that it releases pain-relieving compounds into the brain, which instantly makes you feel better. It can be challenging to get started when you have no motivation. But once you take the first step, the next becomes easier, and so on.
Try Spending Time Meditating
It’s easy to get caught up in your own head sometimes, worrying endlessly about your life and how others see it. Meditation, however, is a powerful tool you can use to escape these unhelpful thought processes and take back control of your inner life. If you’re new to meditation, you could try searching for an anxiety depression therapist near me who will be able to share tips and techniques.
Meditation is all about removing thoughts from your mind and just experiencing a pure sense of being. It comes out of eastern philosophy, but you don’t have to include any spiritual content. You just practice saying “no” to intrusive thoughts, and eventually, with practice, they start going away.
Johns Hopkins is pretty much sold on the idea, claiming that it may work as well as the leading antidepressants. That’s a remarkable finding for something so side-effect-free and straightforward.
Therefore, the good news is that there are all sorts of ways you can fight back against anxiety – one of the greatest scourges of the modern world. Most techniques are just a return to nature. When we live as evolution intended, we suddenly feel much better about how our lives are panning out. No longer do we need to rely on pick-me-ups like caffeine, fast-food, or anything else. Instead, we can just live in harmony with the natural environment and undo all of the damage civilization does to the body. It is by far the most potent way of dealing with anxiety fast.